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Cebu protocols prevail at Mactan airport: doc

The protocol of Cebu province for arriving overseas Filipino workers and returning overseas Filipinos, in accordance with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases policy, will prevail at the Mactan-Cebu International Airport, a health official said.

Department of Health Central Visayas chief pathologist, Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, in a radio interview yesterday, said in the meantime that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and medical experts from Manila are yet to hear the side of the provincial government, policies of the IATF that are in harmony with Executive Order No. 17 of Governor Gwendolyn Garcia as well as the ordinance passed by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan will be implemented at the airport.

This development came after officials from the DOH-7, the Bureau of Quarantine, and the MCIA management met with Garcia Tuesday afternoon, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s order directing the Cebu province to follow the IATF guidelines for swab testing and quarantine of Filipinos arriving at the airport.

“I believe everybody knows already that the protocol will stand because of the ordinance and the Department of Health of Region 7 is just one of the agencies together with other stakeholders that also have to follow the ordinance of the local government unit,” Loreche told the media Tuesday following her meeting with the governor.

Loreche said the guidelines for testing and quarantine at the Cebu airport has not violated the IATF policy.

She clarified that “we have to do some innovative changes primarily because testing upon arrival is an enhancement of security measures.”

The innovation, she said, was to make sure that health authorities will be able to react immediately to those who are positive of coronavirus disease 2019 upon arrival, and “we will be able to extract them already and will not allow them to be going around.”

Duque is visiting Cebu on June 28, Loreche said.

Garcia invited Duque, technical advisors and medical experts to visit Cebu so that they can present the provincial government’s data as well as its protocol in combating Covid-19.

This is in compliance with Duterte’s directive to the DOH chief on June 1 to critique Cebu’s protocols at the airport.

A total of 117 passengers from the United Arab Emirates and 143 from Qatar landed at the MCIA and were made to undergo a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test when they arrived Tuesday.

The passengers are required to wait for the result of the test at a government-accredited hotel, following the IATF protocols required for ROFs and OFWs to undergo quarantine for at least 10 days, and undergo swab tests on the seventh day from arrival.

In Tuesday’s Senate hearing on the Covid-19 vaccination program and quarantine protocols, Garcia pointed out that she has “great respect for the rule of law.”

“In Cebu, we are not only talking about an executive order, but a provincial board ordinance that was passed by our provincial board unanimously, adopting the protocols of my executive order. As we all know, a provincial ordinance, unless declared ultra vires in a proper court, is the local law of the land in accordance with Republic Act 7160, or the Local Government Code,” the governor told the senators.

Garcia reported to the lawmakers that there are 187 confirmed Covid-19 deaths in the province, which puts Cebu’s mortality rate at 1.2 percent, which is much lower than the national total rate of 1.7 percent.

As of June 14, she said 79.8 percent of the 400 beds for severe acute respiratory infections, influenza-like illness, and confirmed Covid-19 patients were still vacant.

She cited IATF Resolution No. 95 issued on Jan. 23, which states that, “Incoming passengers shall be tested upon arrival and shall be quarantined until the result of a subsequent test administered on the fifth day is released.”

She also underscored the Feb. 1, 2021 IATF Resolution No. 96 which states that, “Unless the passenger exhibits symptoms at an earlier date while on quarantine, the RT-PCR test shall be conducted on the fifth day from date of arrival in the Philippines.”

Garcia cited the twin resolutions to support the claim that her EO and the ordinance are in conjunction with the IATF issuances.*PNA

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